November 29, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

California Democrats got their supermajority. Now what? — Broadening the path to long-sought deals on affordable housing, transportation infrastructure and climate change, California Democrats have again captured a two-thirds supermajority in both houses of the Legislature. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Joel Fox: Kevin McCarthy: California’s connection to new Washington power — Election results have shown California’s majority thinks quite differently than the new power in Washington. Putting aside the quixotic quest of the state seceding, California still depends on Washington and requires a bridge to the DC power and money center. California officials will have to find a way to work around those differences. The go to guy to mediate those differences is Republican Majority leader Kevin McCarthy. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Valley politics

A look back at Bakersfield’s longest-serving, best-dressed mayor – Birthdays and anniversaries matter a great deal to 16-year Mayor Harvey L. Hall, who will step aside in January after leading Bakersfield City Council meetings since 2001.But when life and work intersected in 2009, he and his wife, Lavonne, spent their 20th wedding anniversary in — you guessed it — City Council chambers. Bakersfield Californian article

Mayor’s coffee table book hits the streets soon — The mayor is a published author! Well, sort of: Mayor Harvey Hall’s era as the top dog in town is now commemorated with a new hard-bound tome, “Bakersfield: It’s the People, And A Whole Lot More: A new coffee table book about the city I adore and the people I love.” Bakersfield Californian article

Excruciating wait for Turlock election results continues – The waiting game has been excruciating for those watching a tight City Council race in Turlock. Stanislaus County’s Registrar of Voters Office last updated the count Nov. 15, a full two weeks ago. Nothing has changed. Councilman Steven Nascimento holds onto a four-vote lead over Councilwoman Amy Bublak in District 4. Modesto Bee article

Challenger Pao Yang closes in on incumbent Eric Payne for State Center board seat — Educator Pao Yang has sheared a 650-vote election week deficit to just 140 votes in his bid to unseat Eric Payne for the Area 2 seat on the State Center Community College District Board of Trustees. Still, Yang’s attempt to win is daunting. Fresno Bee article

New Fresno Unified trustee gets $25,000 campaign donation. But then she gave it back — Claudia Cazares, who was elected to the Fresno Unified school board earlier this month, rejected a campaign donation made by Richard Spencer – the developer whose no-bid contracts with the district are currently under an FBI investigation. Fresno Bee article

Other areas

 It’s no secret: Intelligence bill unites California lawmakers from the left and right – A conservative Republican from the San Joaquin Valley and a liberal Democrat from Southern California have collaborated to write an intelligence authorization bill that includes many secrets but little apparent controversy. In a noteworthy feat of bipartisanship, Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, and Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, will bring to the House of Representatives floor as early as Wednesday. McClatchy Newspapers article

Democrats don’t see a need to change policy – just the way they sell it – A brawl is about to break out among Democrats on Capitol Hill, and when it’s done, Democrats will say they’re going to be OK. They’re wrong. McClatchy Newspapers article

Presidential Politics

Fresno Islamic Cultural Center receives letter threatening Muslim genocide, praising Trump — The Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno received a chain letter Monday morning threatening genocide against Muslims and praising President-elect Donald Trump. The same letter was sent to at least three mosques in Southern California. It is addressed to “the children of Satan” and says that Trump will do to Muslims what Hitler did to Jews. It is signed by “Americans for a Better Way.” Fresno Bee article

Stockton mosque receives hate letter – An anonymous letter threatening the extermination of American Muslims by President-elect Donald Trump was received by the Islamic Center of Stockton on Saturday. It is believed to be a photocopy of the same handwritten letter received by a number of mosques around the country in recent days. Stockton Record article

Trump’s unproven voter fraud claims get aired in California – California election officials reported Monday that they have processed all but about 962,000 provisional and late-arriving mail ballots cast Nov. 8, and the outcomes of all major races are decided. But progress was overshadowed Monday by President-elect Donald Trump’s unproven suggestion Sunday that some of the 13.7 million ballots counted so far in California – where Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Trump by more than 3.9 million votes – were the result of people voting illegally. Sacramento Bee articlePolitiFact California: Pants on Fire for Trump’s claim about ‘serious voter fraud’ in California

Americans send Trump a loud message: Change that health are law – President-elect Donald Trump is eager to change the nation’s health care law – and most Americans are eager for some changes, a new Gallup Poll released Monday found. McClatchy Newspapers article

Tom Fife: Get aboard or get out of the way of Trump Train — The election is over. Trump won. The Trump Train is now rolling into the future. America has a bright, shiny new leader and a positive, hopeful attitude. Left behind are multitudes of unhappy liberals who now have a choice to make. They can choose to get on the Train, to block the Train, or get out of the Train’s way.  Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

Joe Altschule: Falling into the Trump web … just like Tom – Trump is already becoming just another con artist surrounding himself with other malcontents intent on padding the wallets of the very rich at the expense of the middle class. It won’t be pretty. Trump and Tom adopt the “my way or the highway” rule of governance, which is contrary to our republic and our democracy. So strap in friends; this cannot end well. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

Should Twitter delete Donald Trump’s account over fake news concerns? – President-elect Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated tweet Sunday that millions of people voted illegally for Democratic rival Hillary Clinton is fueling renewed calls that Twitter delete his account. San Jose Mercury News article

Why weekend hack of San Francisco transit should worry Donald Trump — The encryption over the weekend by hackers of part of the computer networks of San Francisco’s light-rail system is yet another sign that public service sectors are increasingly falling victim to global extortionists. It’s also a reminder of the widespread vulnerabilities of American computer systems and of the dilemma faced by President-elect Donald Trump, who’s refused to embrace the U.S. intelligence establishment’s conclusion that Russian hackers were behind the invasion of the Democratic National Committee computers earlier this year. McClatchy Newspapers article

For many LA blacks, Trump’s supporters and advisors stir ugly memories and new fears — African Americans interviewed across Los Angeles tend to view Trump’s election — and his choice of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be U.S. attorney general — on a scale from nervous hope to doomsday dread. Some are blasé, fatalistic maybe. Others are outraged, or terrified. And many cycle through all of those emotions, over and over. LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

Initial state water allocation set at 20 percent — Dozens of water agencies in drought-weary California may only receive 20 percent of their requested deliveries in 2017, state officials said Monday. But the Department of Water Resources initial allocation forecast is twice more than that announced a year ago. AP article

Dan Walters: California faces ‘skills gap’ that colleges aren’t closing – Spending taxpayer money on high school graduates who are unprepared for higher education, and then spending more on remedial classes is not only counterproductive, but a factor in what PPIC sees as a widening “skills gap.” Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Jobs and the Economy

Marijuana doctors get new business buzz from legislation in California — Instead of business plummeting for pot doctors in the wake of legalization, some medical cannabis clinics are noticing an uptick in business as consumers realize they still need a physician’s recommendation to browse dispensary shelves of glistening marijuana buds, honey-hued concentrates and pot-infused brownies. Sacramento Bee article

California vehicle sales finally stall, falling just short of six year of sustained growth — By the slimmest of margins, California’s remarkable winning streak for sales of new cars, trucks and SUVs has finally come to an end, falling just short of reaching six years of sustained growth. LA Times article

Council approves paid parking in downtown Visalia – Motorists in downtown Visalia can expect to pay for parking near the Marriott as early as next spring. Visalia council authorized entering into an agreement with the Welcome Group, owners of the downtown Visalia hotel, and called for installing parking arms in two lots: one off of Court Street and one off Mineral King Avenue. Visalia Times-Delta article

Jeff Jardine: Nonprofits need goods, not bads, to fund their charity efforts – While most of the goods that come their way are in decent condition and can be sold, some folks use the charities as a dumping ground. Consequently, instead of selling the items and banking the cash, the nonprofits are stuck paying to have the trash hauled to the landfill. Single shoes. Underwear with holes in it. Toys and gadgets beyond repair. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Danny Morrison: There always has been a black and brown working class — The powers-that-be owe it to southeast Bakersfield to invest in bringing jobs to that area. You’re worried about crime? Nothing stops a bullet like a job. And nationally, regarding American jobs that have been lost through attrition, working class people of color have long been instructed to seek more education and/or learn a new trade when faced with dire straits. I implore white working class people to follow suit. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian

You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it again: Bay Area housing market is cooling as sales decline — Repeat, repeat, repeat: The Bay Area housing market is showing definite signs of cooling. That message — heard again and again in recent weeks — is amplified once more by a report from the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.), showing pending sales across the region down 11.6 percent in October on a year-over-year basis. San Jose Mercury News article


Sierra snowpack could drop 50 percent by the end of the century due to climate change — The all-important Sierra Nevada snowpack could be cut in half by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t reduced, according to a new analysis from UCLA. KPCC report

Rainy season has strong start in Modesto – The Modesto area already has about a quarter of its average annual rainfall, and the months that typically are wetter lie ahead. Modesto Bee article

Wettest start in 30 years to rainy season in Northern California, but don’t forget the drought – It’s only a beginning. But it’s a strong beginning, and it offers at least a rain gauge’s worth of hope to a state enduring its fifth year of drought. The National Weather Service said Monday that the rainy season in the northern Sierra Nevada is off to its wettest start in 30 yearsSacramento Bee article

California targets dairy cows to combat global warming – California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm. The nation’s leading agricultural state is now targeting greenhouse gases produced by dairy cows and other livestock. AP article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Indianapolis Colts player sends special cleats to family of Deputy Dennis Wallace – Indianapolis Colts long snapper Matt Overton, who wore special cleats in honor of slain Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace in his team’s Thanksgiving game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, wrote Monday that he was sending the cleats to Wallace’s family. Modesto Bee article

Death penalty: Ron Briggs’ odyssey — Ron Briggs was always an ardent supporter of the death penalty. His father John Briggs, former state assemblyman and senator, was a driving force behind a 1978 initiative that expanded the list of special circumstances required for a death sentence. But today, Ron Briggs is one the biggest opponents of capital punishment. Capitol Weekly article

Panel to discuss impartiality in courts — Judges and law professors will delve into the importance of judges maintaining neutrality during the “Know Impartiality, Know Justice: Ensuring the Importance of an Impartial Judiciary in California” panel at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Grace Covell Hall at University of the Pacific. Stockton Record article


Auditor: California needs librarians – Six years ago, the California State Board of Education adopted standards which stated that about 7,900 teacher librarians should be employed to serve the 6.2 million students enrolled in schools statewide. Those standards are not even close to being met. Visalia Times-Delta article

California won’t have to rank schools needing help – The U.S. Department of Education released final regulationsMonday for the Every Student Succeeds Act that back away from earlier drafts on school rankings and other issues that California’s education leaders had loudly criticized. EdSource article

A ‘brilliant poet’ and student, she had a bright life until it was tragically cut short — A graduate student at Fresno State who was making her mark as a poet and advocate for social justice will be laid to rest Tuesday in her hometown of Porterville. Mireyda “Mia” Barraza Martinez, 29, died in a car accident on rain-soaked Highway 99 in Fresno on Nov. 20. Fresno Bee article


PG&E announces $85 million deal over Diablo Canyon closure – Pacific Gas & Electric has agreed to pay $85 million to neighboring cities and a school district affected by the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, the California utility announced Monday. AP article

Dead Sierra trees mean a new, extended life for Fresno biomass plant — Dead trees will continue being turned into electricity near Fresno for another five years after a biomass plant in Malaga got a contract to supply Southern California Edison. Fresno Bee article

160 Brookside trees might get chopped — A Brookside neighborhood association has asked the city for permission to remove up to 160 trees from a route often used by walkers and runners, saying that the roots are damaging property owners’ backyards and potentially their homes. Stockton Record article

Study finds surprising culprit drives forest fire behavior — study released last week found an influence on past fire activity even greater than climate: human beings. KQED report

 Health/Human Services 

In California, Planned Parenthood girds for potentially grim future under Trump — We spoke to Kathy Kneer, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, about the organization’s future under the incoming administration. Planned Parenthood provides primary care, reproductive health services, sex education and abortions across the nation. The 100-year-old organization has about 650 health centers, including 115 in California. KQED report


Sacramento’s most annoying freeway project is (almost) over – five years later — Commuters in North Sacramento are about to get some breathing room after five years of pinched lanes, closures and traffic jams due to construction on Interstate 80.  Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Merced director leaving for Tuolumne job – Merced’s development services director will leave the city for a job in Tuolomne County, he announced in a news release on Monday. David Gonzalves, who has worked in Merced since 2007, will start as Tuolomne County’s community resources agency director on Jan. 3, according to a news release. Merced Sun-Star article

Carmen George: 50-plus ways to give back on Giving Tuesday (or any day) — Somebody came up with a great idea to help: Giving Tuesday – a campaign to encourage do-gooding on the selfless, goodhearted Tuesday to follow Cyber MondaySmall Business Saturday and Black Friday. To help extend the reach of your generosity Tuesday, or any other day, here’s a handy list. George column in Fresno Bee

110 evacuated in Corcoran when ammonia truck overturns — More than 100 people in Corcoran were evacuated Monday after an ammonia truck overturned and started leaking. Fresno Bee articleHanford Sentinel article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Sacramento Bee –- Jill Stein’s recount is a sideshow, as is Trump’s voter fraud claim.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: Bringing health to a community, Thanksgiving generosity and other issues.